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The New Economic Policy

Russia suffered human loss and material damage during the Russian Civil War. New Economic Policy (NEP) was an attempt to rebuild the economy.

The USSR: a new state

USSR (the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics) created in 1922as a federation of republics. Was a multi-national and multi-ethnic state.

Fist constitutionof the USSR was formulated in 1924, established the new political system:

1: Republics had autonomy in domestic policy, law, education, health. Could retain their languages and customs, were allowed to leave the union if they wished.

2: Highest legislative body was Supreme Soviet.

Political organization was really controlled by the sole party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

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The USSR and the Internationals

Lenin believed it was necessary to extend the revolution outside the USSR because the country  would not be able to survive in isolation. He created the Third Internationalin Moscow, Comintern or the Communist International. Other countries were invited to join, hope that strong communist parties would develop abroad.

Most communist partiesfollowed the CPSU model, and became centralized, undemocratic organisations, criticism was repressed.

The USSR became the ideal that communist paries throughout the world to reproduce in their own countries. Foreign intellectuals visited the USSR, were extremely impressed by what they considered to be a vast social experiment.

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Stalin´s dictatorship

The rise of Stalin

Stalin was in favour of giving up the idea of a worldwide revelution. Theory, ‘socialism in one country’, efforts should be turned to strengthening the revolution in the USSR. The Third International only existed to serve Soviet interests.

A totalitarian dictatorship

Stalin took control of the government and established a personal dictatorship, based on:

1: Cult of personality. Propaganda was used depict stalin as the great benefactor and father of the people. Postive traits in his enemies were eliminated from public view.

2: Reinforcement of the Communist Party. Order to take part in politics, people had to be members of the CPSU, this party imposed all the candidates ti the soviets.

3: Terror. All opposition was silenced. Was enforced by a secret police force called the NKVD. Public also contributed by denouncing alleged counter-revolutionaries. Most intense purges took place between 1933 and 1939. Thousands of people were sent to concentration camps called gulags, mainly in Siberia, they were forced to do hard labour

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A planned economy

Stalin believed the state should plan the economy. 1928, agency produced the first Five-Year Plan, established the USSR´s economic goals. Main objectives industrial development, and agricultural and military self-sufficiency.

All economic activity, industry, agriculture trade, came under state control. Private property disappeared.

Collective farming

First Five-Year Plan established land collectives. Landowners had to give up individual ownership, their land then belonged to a collective.

Kulaks (wealthy peasants who had prospered under the NEP) resisted these changes and face brutal repression. Agricultural productivity was interrupted. Production never grew at the rate predicted by the Five-Year Plans, was scarcity and famine.

Two types of collectives:

1: Kolkhozes. Large, collective farms

2: Sovkhozes. These were state-owned farms that paid their workers a salary.

Aim make both types of farm hoghly mechanized, use advanced farming techniques in order to modernize Russian agriculture. Stalin intended for the new farms to produce significantly more food to upport the industrialization process and the growing urban labour force.

Industrial development

Priority was given to heavy industry and energy production. Coal, petroleum and electricity production doubled. State promoted productivity, through propaganda. Workers were encouraged to work extra days, were asked to sacrifice themselves for the good of the state.

Initial results of these policies were spectacular, the USSR became an industrial power. The policies also generated imbalance:

1: Excess of capital goods like machinery and weapons.

2: Scarcity of consumer goods like clothes, shoes and household goods

Basic goods were scarce, and the population suffered.

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Germany´s aggresive expansionism. British and French democracies adopted a strategy of appeasement: acceptance of all of Hitler´s demands in the hope that this would avoid another war.

Anschluss: Germany sent tropos into Austria and annexed it.

Munich Agreement: Britain and France signe dan agreement with Germany-speaking Sudetenland.

Czechoslovakia: Hitler broke the Munich Agreement and ocuupied the rest os Czechoslovakia.


Germany claimed territory that it had lost to Poland following World War I. Rejected the Danzing Corridor, strip of land belonging to poland that divided Germany into two parts. But France and Britain had signed treaties with Poland to maintain its Independence so it was better protected tan Czechoslovakia had been.

En sure the neutrality of the USSR (avoid a war on two fronts), Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact signed in 1939. Pact included a secret agreement to divide poland between the two powers. The USSR would also control Finland and the Baltic States. Stalin accepted he was worried about the German threat to the USSR, could not count on assistance from the western powers in hostility towards communism.

Hitler demanded that poland cede the Danzing Corridor, Poland refuser. Germany invaded Poland. France and Britain declared war on Germany. World War II had begun.

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The Axis offensive (1939-1941)


1: Poland. German armies conquered large parts od Poland in USSR occupied the rest of the country. USSR also attacked Finland

2: Scandinavia. Germany attacked Denmark and Norway to ensure Access to Norwegian Steel and control of the North Sea.

3: France and the Low Countries. Series of highly effective mobile operations lightning war (Blitzkrieg). They rapidly conquered France. Belgium, the Nether and Luxembourg. German tropos entered Paris. France was divided into two zones. Vichy France south and the colonies ,  ruled by General Pétain collaborated with Nazi Germany.

Britain faced the threat of a German invasion. Hitler establish aerial supremacy German troops could be transported acroos the sea. Battle of Britain British fighter planes , resisted the German air force. Germans unable launch a full invasion, and responded by bombing British cities.

Italy entered war. Major offensive north of Africa aimed reaching the Suez Canal blocking communication between Britain and its colonies. Italian attack was repelled and Germany sent troops to assist them. Italian troops invaded Greece, they were again unsuccessful and German troops intervened to complete the invasion

The invasion of the USSR

Hitler always considered communism his main enemy. Once he had continental Europe under control, forces invaded the USSR. Hitler intended to occupy the great cities Leningrad, Moscow and kiev before winter. Key strategic objective assist the Nazi war effort by controlling the production of grains and oil in the Caucasus region.

Plan suffered a huge setback.